From Scheme to Common Lisp, A Syntax Reference

November 17, 2011

Lisp is quite common in Computer Science. As a nearly “syntax free” language, it is an excellent language for explaining computational concepts. Although it is quite common to see the Lisp dialect Scheme (or a equally trimmed down pseudo-lisp) used, there are some great texts written in Common Lisp, a few still in Emacs Lisp, and increasingly more in Clojure.

Since the goal of these texts is to be illustrative of concepts, not vocational in teaching a particular dialect, even small pieces of time spent deciphering syntax differences is wasteful. The best resource I’ve found for the fellow academic minded lispers out there is the Hyperpolyglot Lisp reference table.

As someone who learned Scheme in The Little Schemer and continues to use it while working through Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and The Seasoned Schemer I’ve found the Hyperpolyglot reference table to be very helpful while stepping out of Scheme and into papers written in other dialects, like many of Paul Graham’s that use Common Lisp.

At the end of the day its the concepts that matter, and any tool that can cut down on distractions like syntax, is well worth it.

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